krowface: xenomorph in full lotus position (Default)


Never assume that you are always the top of the fucking food chain.
krowface: xenomorph in full lotus position (Default)
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” – Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Mary Jaksch of Goodlife Zen.

I’m an expert at many things. And I’m sick of it. Being an expert, that is. Because being an expert is boring. That’s why I started kite surfing a few month ago. I wanted to be a beginner again.

Kite surfing looks easy – until you try it. The challenge is to control both kite and board. A kite is unpredictable. One moment it’s behaving. Next, it’s totally out of control. Like the time when my kite took off - and I was suddenly swept off my feet and into the air. I could see my instructor far below: eyes agog and jaws agape. Then I crashed down into the sea. Next moment I was being dragged backwards under water at high speed like an out-of-control torpedo. Finally I managed to come up for air. Rather alarming, but on the whole great fun!

I love being a beginner again. I love following impossible instructions. I love failing gloriously!

This is Beginner’s Mind. It’s a Zen state of mind.

What if we had that approach to everything we did? What would life be like?

Let’s take a look at seven aspects of Beginner’s Mind and see how they can transform our life:

1. Take one step at a time. We tend to think in sequences. For example, when we go grocery shopping, our mind is on what we need to buy and where to shop. We’re likely to skip over all the little experiences on the way: locking the front door, seeing the neighbour standing at the window, rain splattering on the windscreen, the noise of traffic, and so on.

The same thing happens when we learn something new. We’re always looking towards what we’ll know or be able to do in the future, instead of focusing on the next step right now. I’m definitely guilty of that. You too?

* Tip: Take one step at a time without worrying about the journey.

2. Fall down seven times, get up eight times. Yesterday a friend of mine brought her toddler to visit. The little girl, Stephanie, is just learning to walk. She would pull herself up, wobble along a few steps and then plop down on her bottom. She had a determined look on her face and got up again, over and over. When did we last learn something with such determination and such little obvious success?

* Tip: Celebrate falling down as well as getting up: it’s all part of learning.

3. Use Don’t Know mind. In martial arts, a don’t know mind is the wisdom of the warrior. Because we can easily get it wrong by prejudging a situation. When faced with a big opponent or a big challenge, we might assume that we will lose out. And when faced with an opponent who seems smaller or weaker, or a challenge that seems surmountable, we might assume that we will be on top. In both scenarios our judgment might be wrong. Don’t know means keeping an open mind and responding according to circumstances, not according to how we assume things will be. A don’t know mind leaves room for intuition.

I think don’t know mind has wider implications. Because, we really only know things up to now. Let me give you an example: I have a couple of dear friends who are moving into adolescence. It’s a time of great change. One day they’re still playing Ninjas, next day they’re confiding in me about the kiss their boyfriend stole behind the bikeshed. If I had a fixed view of who they are, I’d miss all the changes along the way and lose connection with them.

* Tip: Let go of knowing – that’s real wisdom.

4. Live without shoulds. I could write a whole book about how I should be, what I should have done and what I should be doing, couldn’t you? The world seems to be full of experts on my life who like to tell me what I should be doing. Living with Beginner’s Mind means letting go of shoulds. I’m not advocating living without our own moral standards. I think that most of our shoulds reflect other peoples’ ideas on what our life should look like. We can let go of them.

* Tip: Shake off shoulds and own your life.

6. Make use of experience. Beginner’s Mind is great, but it’s not so useful when crossing the road. You don’t want to be squashed flat by a car in the process of learning anew that you need to get out of the way! It’s always good to use our experience and native wisdom. That’s how we learn. Beginner’s Mind doesn’t mean negating experience; it means keeping an open mind on how to apply our experience to each new circumstance.

* Tip: Utilize your native wisdom and experience.

7. Let go of being an expert. We are all experts. Experts in our job, in raising children, in crossing the road, in signing our name. It’s difficult to let go of being an expert. Because it means confessing that we really know nothing. What we know belongs to the past. Whereas this moment now is new and offers its unique challenges. If I let go of being an expert, I can listen to others with an open mind. Then I can find that even a beginner has something to teach me.

* Tip: Letting go of being an expert enables you to keep learning.

8. Experience the moment fully. Have you ever taken a small kid to the movies for the first time? Everything is amazing for them. They stare at the bright lights in the foyer. They investigate each popcorn with great concentration. They stare at everyone sitting around them. They flinch when the music starts. They scramble on to your lap when the monster appears on screen. They laugh out loud when it’s funny. They live each moment.

Just imagine living like that! Most of the time we live in a daydream in which we think of the past, and dream of the future. Meanwhile life runs on without us. Without us being present, that is. We miss so much when we live in a daze. Beginner’s Mind allows us to take it all in. Then even ordinary things begin to shine.

* Tip: Live life to the full – one moment at a time.

9. Disregard common sense. ‘Common sense’ is what the culture we live in regards as ‘normal’. If inventors like Da Vinci or Edison had stayed with a ‘common sense’ mindset, our life would be very different because their inventions changed the world. In an interview Thomas Edison said about energy:

“Some day some fellow will invent a way of concentrating and storing up sunshine as energy. I’ll do the trick myself if some one else doesn’t get at it.”

I bet you that Edison’s fellow citizen’s thought he was crazy. “Turn sunlight into energy – how absurd!” they would have said because his idea didn’t fit with the common sense of the time.

* Tip: Release yourself from common sense and become creative.

10. Discard fear of failure. When did you last start something new? Was it maybe a while back? As children we are always starting something new. Then, as we go through our twenties, thirties, and further, we become more hesitant about being a beginner again. Why? Maybe because we don’t want to look silly when we fail.

There are always plenty of people ready to snigger when we take the first wobbly steps. But it’s our choice whether to take notice or not.

* Tip: Immerse yourself in your actions and forget the watchers.

11. Use the spirit of enquiry. Beginner’s Mind is about using the spirit of enquiry – without getting stuck in preconceived ideas. There’s a Zen story about this:

A professor once visited a Japanese master to inquire about Zen. The master served tea. When the visitor’s cup was full, the master kept pouring. Tea spilled out of the cup and over the table.

“The cup is full!” said the professor. “No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” said the master, “You are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

You can see how this story applies not only to learning about Zen, but to learning about anything at all. The spirit of enquiry is the mind that is open to the unknown, and empty of pre-conceived ideas.

* Tip: Focus on questions, not on answers.
krowface: xenomorph in full lotus position (Default)
The Warrior strives to reach above himself, his false perceptions, his adversaries... His highest achievement is not one of victory, but one of absolute truth.

Have compassion for all beings, causing them no unnecessary hurt, nor needless harm.

Refrain from needless competitiveness, from contriving for self-advantage, and from subjugating others.

When accepting authority over others, know also that you accept responsibility for their well being.

Value true friendship, and fulfill your obligations, rather than striving with egotistical motive.

Seek liberation from the negative passions of hatred, envy, greed and rage, and especially from delusion, deceit and sensory desire.

Learn to let go of that which cannot be owned, or which is destroyed by grasping.

Seek the courage to be; defend yourself, and your convictions.

Accept transience, the inevitable and the irrevocable. Know that change exists in everything. Negate the barriers to your awakening; discover the positive in the negative, and seek a meaningful purpose in what you do.

Be just and honorable; take pride in what you do, rather than being proud of what you have accomplished.

Having humility and respect, give thanks to those from whom you learn, or who have otherwise helped you.

Act in harmony with your fellow beings, with nature, and with inanimate objects.

Know that a thing or an action which may seem of little value to oneself, may be a priceless treasure to another.

Help those who are suffering or disadvantaged, and as you yourself become awakened, help those who seek to make real their own potential.

Know that there is no shame in questioning.

Be diligent in your practice, and on hearing the music of the absolute, do not be so foolish as to try to sing its song.

Remember to renew the source, in order to retain good health.

Seek neither brilliance nor the void; just think deeply, and work hard.

When still, be as the mountain; when in movement be as the dragon riding the wind.

Be aware at all times, like the tiger which only seems to sleep, and at all times let the mind be like running water.

When you are required to act, remember that right motive is essential to right action, just as right thought is essential to right words.

Beware of creating burdens for yourself or others to carry.

Act with necessary distinction, being both creative and receptive, and transcending subject/object dichotomy.

Know that you are not the center of the universe, but learn to put the universe at your center by accepting the instant of your being.

Seek security within yourself, rather than in others.

Know that even great worldly wealth, and the accumulation of material things are of little worth, compared with the priceless treasures; love, peace and the freedom to grow.

Allow yourself to be, so that your life may become a time of blossoming.

– Ch'onsa Kim
krowface: xenomorph in full lotus position (Default)

Love makes us stronger. To claim otherwise is to not know what love is.

November 2016

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